Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney drastically improved his standing with Virginia voters after a strong performance in the first presidential debate, according to a survey released Sunday from Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling (PPP). But Romney’s improvement hardly affected the race for the state’s 13 electoral votes.
President Obama leads 50 percent to Romney’s 47 percent, and more voters continue to trust Obama on the economy. That represents little change from PPP’s last poll of the state, when Obama held a 51 percent to 46 percent advantage over Romney in mid-September.
“We’ve been calling Virginia Obama’s firewall state the entire cycle and this is just more evidence for it,” Dean Debnam, president of PPP, said in a statement. “Even after one of his worst weeks of the campaign Obama continues to hold the lead there.”
Romney’s favorability rating was underwater in PPP’s September poll — 47 percent of Virginia voters had a favorable view of him against 49 percent who had an unfavorable one. That division flipped in Sunday’s numbers, with 52 percent of Virginians having a favorable view and 44 percent unfavorable. Sixty-one percent said Romney won the debate, while 28 percent said the same about Obama.
President Obama continues to lead the PollTracker Average of the Virginia race by 2.4 percent.
While Romney’s rating in the state has improved, Obama has stayed the same. Fifty percent of Virginia voters approved of the president’s job performance both in September and in the latest survey. Forty-eight percent disapproved in both cases. Obama also continues to lead on the economy, and even improved slightly after the debate — 49 percent of Virginians trusted Obama more on the issue to Romney’s 47 percent in mid-September, while 50 percent broke to Obama and 47 percent to Romney in Sunday’s numbers. Partisan divisions on the question hardly changed at all between the two polls.
“The problem for Romney is that most of that gain [on favorability] has come with Democrats,” according to PPP’s analysis. “But still only 8% of those Democrats are actually voting for Romney. Much of the improvement in Romney’s image is people going from hating Romney and voting for Obama to respecting Romney but still voting for Obama.”
The PPP poll used 725 automated interviews with likely voters via landline (automated surveys are prohibited from calling cell phones) and was conducted Oct. 4-7. It had a sampling error of 3.7 percent.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.